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How Winning the Iditarod on Foot Started with NOLS

By Molly Herber on Mar 6, 2020

Editor's note: Pete Ripmaster is an ultrarunner, motivational speaker, parent, and graduate of a 1997 NOLS Alaska Mountaineering course. In 2018, he won the Iditarod Trail Invitational, a 1,000-mile footrace from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska. In this interview, he shares how building self-reliance and competence necessary to competing in this arduous race began with his NOLS expedition.

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Topics: Alumni, Alaska, ultrarunning, stories, alumni-stories

José González, Knight Campbell, & Kit DesLauriers on Their Trails To Success [Video]

By NOLS on Feb 13, 2020
Photo courtesy of José G. González

NOLS graduates are an inspiring bunch. Over the years, we’ve heard again and again that their NOLS courses impacted their trails to success.

Whether success means founding a nonprofit that empowers Latinx communities in the outdoors (José González), becoming the first person to ski the seven summits (Kit DesLauriers), or launching a company built around outdoor leadership training (Knight Campbell), NOLS courses can facilitate learning and growth along the way.

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Topics: Alumni, NOLS alumni, video, stories, #TrailsToSuccess, alumni-stories

Billycan Romance: A Lifetime Adventure

By Rich Brame on Feb 4, 2020
Photo by Nathan Page

In about 1983, two New York City bankers met at a party. There was the usual small talk, music by Culture Club, and some shop talk, too. Home loan rates were 13%; electronic games maker Coleco was a hot stock; hit movies were Flashdance and The Big Chill.

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Topics: Alumni, Wind River Wilderness, NOLS alumni, Wind River Range, stories, alumni-stories, romance

Jimmy Chin’s Journey from NOLS to the Oscars

By Brooke Ortel on Feb 3, 2020
Photo courtesy of National Geographic

It’s Oscar season once again—a great reason to celebrate Jimmy Chin, co-producer of the top documentary feature film of 2019. Not only is Jimmy a world-renowned skier, climber, and film-maker, he’s also a NOLS alum, former instructor, and current Board member. Years before he stepped into the international spotlight, Jimmy started his journey with NOLS.

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Topics: NOLS Grad, nols instructor, Live the Dream, rock-climbing, NOLS Alum, parenting, Free Solo, leaders of color, stories, alumni-stories

Learning Expedition Behavior With Kids: Winter Edition

By Alyssa Walker on Feb 28, 2019
Photo by Alyssa Walker

Winter is ripe for lessons in expedition behavior (EB) for everyone, especially kids. The season compresses EB’s basic tenets of self-care, leadership, and positive attitudes in some of the harshest, least EB-friendly conditions.

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Topics: expedition behavior, winter, kids, parenting, stories, alumni-stories

Andrew Bobilya: Taking the Classroom Outdoors

By Brooke Ortel on Feb 20, 2019
Andrew teaches rock climbing during an “Introduction to Outdoor Pursuits” class. Photo courtesy of Andrew Bobilya.

As an undergrad studying outdoor education, Andrew Bobilya didn’t aspire to be a professor. He didn’t plan on going into academia. Like many expeditions, his career didn’t follow exactly the path he expected.

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Topics: NOLS Mexico, NOLS alumni, NOLS Grad, Baja Sea Kayaking, kayaking, outdoor education, stories, alumni-stories

A New Map: A NOLS Grad’s Journey to Walking Again

By Dan Kenah on Jan 14, 2019
Photo by Mireille Brown

In his 1997 Idaho Adventure Course evaluation, Jim Harris’ instructors noted that “map reading comes easily to Jim.”

He reflected on that skill recently, and how it felt like he "was given the keys to the castle. I could go anywhere on the planet" with it. But at the time he had no idea it would lead him down a path where few maps exist to show the way forward.

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Topics: Alumni, NOLS alumni, Adventure Courses, stories, alumni-stories

Leading in the Avalanche Safety and Education Industry

By Kim Freitas on Dec 19, 2018
Photo by Paul Rachele

Editor's note: Adapted from the Fall 2016 issue of The Leader.

When Jaime Musnicki was first introduced to skiing at age two, it led to a lifelong love of winter sports and an unexpected career path.

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Topics: Alumni, avalanche, winter, inspiring women, women in leadership, stories, alumni-stories

Help Your Friends Love NOLS Alumni Trips

By Kyle Courtaway on Nov 29, 2018
Photo courtesy of Kyle Courtaway

I’m looking down the long dinner table at a rifugio (mountain hut) in the Dolomites with my childhood friends mixed with new NOLS friends. As I sit, I'm reflecting on what it took to get my friends here. We're happy, and enjoying our time together in these Italian mountains.

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Topics: Alumni, Alumni Trip, Italy, stories, alumni-stories

Opinion | Breaking the Habits of Technology

By Kathryn Wheeler on May 22, 2018
Photo by Oscar Manguy

Since moving to Lander, I’ve developed a bit of routine around technology. My weeks are comprised of long days in front of a computer, with constant access to the web, and all of the baggage that brings. My weekends tend to look the opposite, as I attend to my need for uninterrupted experiences outside with others. This weekly routine casts me into two different worlds: one where I am totally absorbed by screens, and the other where I try to forget the existence of technology for a clarifying breath of fresh air.

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Topics: technology, opinion, stories, alumni-stories

5 Ways Expedition Behavior Helps You Raise Kids

By Alyssa Walker on May 3, 2018
Photo by Alyssa Walker

The most miserable and telling moment on my monthlong NOLS Alaska Outdoor Educator Course 13 years ago—descending a steep talus slope—taught me the value and beauty of expedition behavior, or EB. It also prepared me for an even bigger life adventure: parenthood.

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Topics: skills, Family, backpacking, expedition behavior, Alaska, Outdoor Educator, kids, parenting, stories, alumni-stories